An Introduction to Passive House - review
Justin Bere - ‘An Introduction to Passive House’
Written by the architect Justin Bere, this introductory guide to the Passive House standard is an accessible and valuable addition to the growing content relating to construction fit for a sustainable 21st century.
The slim and well-presented volume begins with a section called ‘What is Passive House?’ which concisely explores the history and growing prevalence of the Passivhaus Standard. Bere explains that Passive House is a standard for, and advanced method of, designing buildings using building physics to ensure precision, comfort and reduced energy costs, as well as removing guesswork from the design process.
He also presents the opinion that:‘A great 21st century building is one that is beautiful to look at but that also feels good in reality when the power supplies are turned down to almost nothing … I fear that some architects give more priority to how their buildings will look in architectural magazines than to making sure that their buildings perform efficiently and comfortably for the benefit of their occupants.’
The book explores the six methods that form the essential basics of Passive House design:
- Draught-free construction.
- High-performance windows and doors.
- Heat recovery ventilation.
- Good building commissioning.
- Solutions for both hot and cold climates.
While the book does not provide a great deal of detail, Bere does set out the context and easy-to-understand basics for those who may not be familiar with the subject.
The second section asks ‘Why Passive House?’, and provides more technical information and discussion covering the renewable energy revolution, integrated design, and capital and whole life costs. Two shorter chapters provide robust primers on air quality and health, and the importance of skills.
The bulk of the book though is taken up with 15 case studies from around the world. These include a variety of different buildings other than houses, including an office, community centre and school, and emphasise the potential that following the Passive House Standard can have in delivering buildings of great architectural merit.
There are eye-catching photographs, details and diagrams throughout that make it a great book to flick through, while providing enough technical information to serve as a worthwhile and engaging introduction, and perhaps as inspiration, to both students and seasoned professionals.
For more information and to purchase the book, please see RIBA Bookshop.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Better Buildings: Learning from buildings in use - review.
- Bill Gething and Katie Puckett - Design for Climate Change.
- BIM for Dummies - an interview.
- Biomimicry in Architecture - review.
- Charles Waldheim - Landscape as Urbanism: A General Theory.
- Fabric first.
- FutuREstorative - review.
- Green deal.
- Home Quality Mark.
- How Buildings Work - review.
- Owen Hatherley - Landscapes of Communism.
Featured articles and news
Read about RSHP's British Museum extension which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Stirling Prize.
Read our introductory article to building a house extension.
More updates from DCMS about the large-scale testing of cladding systems and the number of buildings affected.
UandI secure resolution to grant planning consent for major new regeneration project.
IHBC article considers how heritage is dealt with when infrastructure schemes are authorised.
It was the tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years, but to this day the exact construction techniques are a mystery.
Shortlist for the industry's most coveted award announced.
Government responds to Mark Farmer's review of industry, rejecting the call for a levy on clients.
Peter Hansford to examine what wider lessons can be learned from the fire.
Every project is subject to uncertainty. How can construction better understand uncertainty for performance improvement?
MAD Architects reveal their designs for a futuristic campus for electric car manufacturer.
Homebuyers could borrow more with better forecasting of energy bills, according to industry consortium's new report.
Read our introductory article on carbon capture and storage.